By Oleksandr @Adobe Stock

Harriet Torry and Ben Glickman report that sales of toys and games have slumped as Americans show signs of pulling back. They write:

Shoppers couldn’t get enough toys and games during the pandemic. Now, they are finding other ways to spend their time, and that is spelling trouble for toy makers and sellers.

Sales of toys have slumped so far this year, down 8% through September compared with the same period last year, according to market-research firm Circana, and appeared poised to be lackluster this holiday season. Imports of toys and games have fallen sharply this year and sales at toy stores, department stores and other gift sellers declined in October, leading a broader pullback.

A retrenchment on the most fun-to-give gifts sends a signal that Americans are starting to ease their spending more broadly as pandemic savings dwindle, the labor market softens and shoppers worry about global events and still-elevated inflation. Easing consumer spending would cool overall growth, because it accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity.

This holiday season is off to a slow start for Wildlings Toy Boutique in Phoenix, which sells classic toys dollhouses and wooden cars and accessories. The store has been trying to drum up customer interest with experiences, including Santa visits and family photo shoots in front of a Christmas-tree backdrop outside the store. […]

“Overall, the consumer has been very resilient: that’s why we’re not in a recession,” said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester.

Nguyen, the owner of Building Blocks, remains optimistic about this holiday season. “People don’t cut out their children,” she said. “Even if they have job insecurity, or worry about food costs,” they still buy gifts for their children, she added.

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